tips for new dads
Labour & birth

Tips for new dads

How can you help support your partner through labour and the early days? Father-of-three Tom Evans provides some valuable advice.

Your baby’s birth

When it comes to helping your partner giving birth, you will need to be the carrier of everything, from bags and birth balls to the weight of expectations. Men can provide support at many levels. As you’ve seen on TV, you can help with massage, fanning her brow, helping with positions, bringing her drinks and snacks. You will need to sustain your energy throughout the night also, so remember to bring plenty of snacks, so you don’t have to go hunter-gathering when you are most needed by her side.

Support through contractions

During contractions, go with your partner’s energy and with whatever she needs at that moment. She might want to hold you, you to hold her or to stay back entirely. She will need you to trust her instincts – utterly. Birth happens more easily when the woman feels empowered. The more information you know, the better – so be ready to do the leg work and find answers to her questions. Try to leave your own anxiety outside. Adrenaline is contagious, so if your stress levels are high, she will start to get anxious too, and the adrenaline hormone halts labour. Dad needs to provide strength and support – not to add to stress and anxiety.

Empower your wife

The more empowered and trusting the woman is of herself, and of her ability to withstand pain, the less likelihood of a medicalised birth. Prepare for this – do antenatal classes or birth preparation classes to empower yourselves, such as Cuidiu antenatal classes or Gentlebirth. Remember that both men and women are designed to cope with the experience of birth since the beginning of time. Fathers bring a huge amount to the birth experience. You will never ever forget it – in every detail. It will likely be the most emotional experience of your own life. You will want to savour it forever. As well as being proud of your partner and baby, you will take pride in your achievement and your place in it all.

Help, we’re home now

1. Changing nappies are no bother once you’ve done a few. You’ll soon get the routine. Have your changing table, supplies and disposal system organised.

2. Set up online grocery shopping and home delivery. Most of the providers save ‘your favourites,’ so it gets easier and faster each time you shop.

3. Your partner will most likely be less available emotionally – be ready for that and cut her some slack. She may not want sex for weeks or months. Generally, it’s out for the first four to six weeks due to the risk of infection, bleeding, healing etc – depending on the birth. Don’t pressurise her – talk about it. Open communication is the key to building intimacy. There are other ways to reconnect – like holding, cuddling, chatting and sharing over a glass of wine when baby is asleep.

4. Sleep will be challenged. Sleep is fundamental. Sleeping patterns will be overturned. She will need to synchronise hers with the baby. Use the spare room or couch if your sleep is suffering.

5. Have lots of fun. Get on down there on the floor with the baby – it’s a great opportunity for a second childhood.

6. Look after your mental health. The first six months of each child’s life is very stressful for both parents. You need to be resourced and supported to withstand the stress and anxiety. Then you will be more available to support your partner and family.

7. Do not isolate yourself. You will need breaks also. We do not operate at our optimum when isolated. Keep in touch with friends and family, as sharing eases everything. Openness to support and asking for it are vital – for you both. Cuidiu offers women a fantastic way to meet others who are coping with exactly what you are – in a very easy relaxed way – at coffee mornings either in local cafés or someone’s home. For men, we don’t have the same ready-made solution available – so why not set up a dads group?

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My honest birth story

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….